Report: Jost Group reaches €30 million settlement over social insurance fraud case

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Belgian road transport company Jost Group has reportedly reached a €30 million settlement with the federal public prosecutor following years of investigation into a social insurance fraud case.

Report: Jost Group reaches €30 million settlement over social insurance fraud case
Photo: NotrucksNolife from FRANCE, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The settlement, which was confirmed to Belgian newspaper De Tijd via “well-informed sources,” is said to mark the end of a saga that has cast a shadow over the Jost Group for almost seven years.

The Belgian transport company, as well as some of its Romanian and Slovakian subsidiaries, have long been at the centre of an investigation into social dumping and even human trafficking.

Jost, whose annual turnover amounts to around €350 million, is accused of hiring Eastern European drivers via the aforementioned subsidiaries in order to reduce labour costs and avoid making Belgian social insurance contributions – despite the fact the truckers worked in the country. It was also alleged that the drivers, many of whom were reportedly flown into the country, worked in awful conditions with a lack of sanitary facilities.

In 2017, Jost Group CEO Roland Jost, together with three partners, spent several weeks in custody after being subject to an arrest warrant. Jost, who runs the country’s third-largest transportation company, has nonetheless maintained his innocence.

Two years ago, Jost Group paid a deposit of €7 million to be able to operate again . Part of the transport company’s fleet was also seized as compensation for tens of millions of euros in alleged evasion of social insurance payments to the government.

According to De Tijd, the federal prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case yesterday. The settlement between Jost Group and the prosecution only refers to the company itself and not its the directors. The agreement must also be validated by the Liège council chamber. A hearing is scheduled for December.

Roberto Parrillo, general manager of the Belgian trade union of transport workers, CSC Transcom, told that if a settlement has indeed been reached, it “would be an admission of fraud”:

“If this transaction were to be confirmed, it would be an admission of fraud. Indeed, it is the recognition of social dumping, which CSC-Transcom has denounced for years. This would clearly mean that we were right from the start: CSC-Transcom has always been at the forefront of the fight against social dumping at both national and European level.”

Parrillo also cast doubt on whether the reported settlement value of €30 million was enough:

“Does 30 million really cover the damage suffered? Nothing is less certain. And beyond the sum, we must wonder about the scope of the transaction. Is it the end of social dumping or a social dumping premium? We are talking about a case that dates back to 2015. But what about the facts denounced subsequently? What about the social dumping that plagues the whole The sector? And in this case, there was also a question of human trafficking, what about this aspect? There are many questions unanswered that such a transaction will not resolve.”

Moreoever, Parillio and his trade union warns that the case of the Jost Group is by no means unique:

“With this transaction, we have not solved the problem of social dumping. We are impatiently awaiting the decision of the Liège court”.

Photo: NotrucksNolife from FRANCE, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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